CESSATIONISM VS. CONTINUATIONISM

Cessationism versus continuationism involves a Christian theological dispute as to whether spiritual gifts remain available to the church, or whether their operation ceased with the Apostolic Age of the church (or soon thereafter).

Cessationist views usually arise from modern cultural norms within the Westernized American church, rather than from Scripture. Many people cite the book of Job or obscure examples from the Old Testament, not fully grasping the radical changes that occurred after Christ resurrected and we entered the New Covenant. The Gospels make it clear that Jesus won back mankind's authority over Satan at the cross, and gave the New Testament church authority to heal the sick and cast out demons.


Why is this discussion important? Because miracles are an integral part of the Great Commission. Jesus said miraculous signs would confirm the word that was preached. (See Mark 16:17-18.) He said, "Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing." And Ephesians 1 makes the earth-shattering statement, "His incomparably great power for us who believe... is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead." A Gospel that lacks supernatural transformation is no Gospel at all. 

The modern church is so afraid of false prophets and false miracles that it tends to throw out the baby with the bath water. But the counterfeit version does not negate the real thing. Here is a thorough exploration of these topics. 

Topics

Does the Bible say all believers can heal the sick?

Do the "greater works" include miracles?

Does healing the sick make us equal with God? 

Is it always God's will to heal? 

Job's trials

Can we know God's will? 

Do continuationists focus on miracles more than Christ? 

Is preaching the Gospel more important than healing people? 

Are miracles an integral part of the Great Commission? 

Paul's thorn

Did God directly impose sickness or blindness? 

Is persuasion the most effective method for evangelism?

Why don't some people get healed?

Isn't it harsh to say some people don't have enough faith?

Closing thoughts

 

 


 

Does the Bible say all believers can heal the sick? 

It doesn't get much clearer than Mark 16: 

 

15 Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16)

 

Key points & questions:

  • Jesus explicitly identified healing, casting out demons, speaking in tongues, and other supernatural works as a component of the Great Commission, and explicitly said those miracles were the signs by which you would identify a true believer. 

  • Jesus said miraculous signs will accompany "those who believe"—he did not designate the apostle, prophet, or priest. He designated the Believer. This is in keeping with our universally accepted teaching on the "priesthood of all believers." 

  • Mark says the miraculous signs confirmed (proved) the word that was preached. 

  • Does the command to “go into all the world" include future generations of believers, or just the Apostles? Then shouldn’t “these signs will follow” also apply to all believers?

 

More relevant verses:

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28

 

Jesus prays for his disciples

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. John 17

 

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17/ Joel 2:28

 

Key points & questions: 

  • When Jesus commanded them to teach the nations "everything" he taught the disciples, did he mean everything? He spent a lot of time teaching them how to heal the sick and cast out demons. Is that component removed from the "everything" of the Great Commission? 

  • Jesus seems to be praying that all future generations of believers will be in perfect unity with himself and his 12 disciples. Nowhere does he distinguish between the lifestyle he taught them and the lifestyle they are to teach the nations. 

  • In the last days, men and women of every generation will be filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesying and having visions. 


 



 

Do the "greater works" include miracles? 

Jesus' radical words in John 14 should settle the matter once and for all. 

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

 

Some people question whether the word "works" means miracles, as opposed to Christ's general actions like preaching and teaching. It's true that "works" has many uses throughout Scripture. However, it's equally clear that "works" does include (and often directly denotes) Jesus' miracles such as healing the sick, casting out demons, walking on water, and multiplying food. 

 

The Bible itself directly correlates "works" with miracles. 

  • Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Matthew11:20

  • Insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Matthew 13:54

  • And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Matthew13:58

  • When John heard about the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come…?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Matthew 11:2

The famous "greater works" line needs to be kept in context as well:

11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these. John 14

 

In verse 11, Jesus directly references his mighty works, as compared to his preaching. If you don't believe what I say (preach), at least believe on the evidence of the works. Chorazin and Bethsaida didn't, but you should! What works could he possibly be referring to? It seems so unusual to exclude miracles from "works" when they were such a huge part of his ministry, and Jesus himself consistently cites miracles as evidence that he comes from the Father. It seems a little too convenient to exclude miracles from the "greater works you will do," especially when Jesus consistently and repeatedly says this kind of supernatural lifestyle will mark those who truly believe: 

 

  • If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matt 17:20

  • These signs will follow those who believe... Mark 16

  • Whoever believes in me will do the works I am doing… John 14

  • As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. John 20:21

  • If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7

  • And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13

Jesus is describing a level of profound intimacy with God that is possible for his followers. He prayed fervently for it in John 17—"That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." From that place of intimate union, where our will is completely conformed to his, "whatever you ask will be done," "nothing will be impossible for you," "rivers of living water will flow from within you," "signs will follow those who believe." This is what Jesus prayed for his disciples and every future generation of believer.  

 

When Peter asks to walk on the water, Jesus' response is not, "Don't be so arrogant, only the Messiah can do that," but . . . "Come." When the disciples point out that there is no food for the 5000, Jesus replies, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus knows they have no food. What is he hinting at there? And when Jesus is asleep in the boat and the terrified disciples wake him up, he doesn’t just calm the storm. He says, “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?” In each example, Jesus directly implies that the disciples can and should have the same faith he has. 

 

 


 

Does healing the sick make us equal with God? 

One of the reasons you object to modern believers healing the sick is that it seems to downplay the divinity of Jesus, or to make us equal with God. Hyper-religious folks are quick to point out that it is not our authority but God’s which will heal the sick.

 

And they are absolutely right about that. But the Bible itself does not take the time to scrupulously, religiously make that distinction. The Bible itself says “you will place your hands on the sick, and they will recover.” The Bible itself does not minimize or de-emphasize our role & authority.

 

  • You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14

  • The Kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21

  • Let your light so shine before men... Matt 5:16

  • Nothing will be impossible for you. Matt 17:20

  • I have given them the glory that you gave me... John 17:22

  • God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms... Eph 2:6

  • ...that Jesus might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

  • ...destined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Romans 8:29

  • Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

  • His incomparably great power for us who believe... is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead... Ephesians 1

  • You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you... John 15:7

  • I will do whatever you ask in my name... John 14:13

 

Based on the above verses, God seems very intent on restoring to humanity to a profound, almost unfathomable kind of intimacy and union with him. To the degree that whatever we ask him will be done. This unity/ intimacy/ spiritual completeness is what he wants for us. 

 

In highlighting the word “you” in the list above, I certainly don’t mean to emphasize our importance over Christ’s. He is the Messiah; he's the head of the church; he's God! I’m simply pointing out that God himself did not de-emphasize our role and value. We are the light of the world because we represent Christ. He is very intent on restoring us to unity with him—it’s why he went to the cross. 

 

Claiming that we have authority to heal the sick does not minimize the divinity of Jesus or make us equal with God. Jesus himself commanded his followers to heal the sick and said it was the sign that would mark his true believers. We are simply a conduit of his authority and power when we abide in him. 



 

Is it always God's will to heal? 

Be sure you don’t confuse the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. Everything changed after Jesus died on the cross. The temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, signifying that sin & separation from God had been dealt with. Provision was made for intimacy with God to be restored. 

 

Prior to that, the presence of God dwelt in the Most Holy Place in the physical Temple. After that, the presence of Yahweh no longer dwelt in "houses made by human hands," but his house was now inside us. Our physical bodies are now literally the temple/ house of the Holy Spirit. That was not true for people in the Old Covenant. This is a massive, earth shattering shift! 

 

Jesus won back our direct access to God—we no longer need a priest. He made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come live inside us and have direct fellowship with us.

 

The point is, a massive shift took place when we transitioned from Old Covenant to New. Our Authority was restored.

 

At Creation, God gave Adam & Eve (mankind) authority and dominion over the earth. When they ate of the tree, they essentially gave that dominion over to Satan. This is why Satan is referred to as “the ruler of this world” after the Fall. They also “died” spiritually (“the day you eat of the tree, you will surely die”) and their perfect, face to face union with God was severed.

 

But here’s the point: When Jesus resurrected, he won back mankind's intimacy with God and authority over Satan.

Christ (the second Adam) shows up on earth and immediately starts casting out demons and healing the sick. He then gives his disciples authority “to drive out impure spirits and heal every disease and sickness.” There is no example of demons being cast out in the Old Testament. But when Christ came on the scene, everything changed:

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10

 

"On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:18

 

This "binding and loosing" authority he is giving to his church is exactly the same legal terminology used to describe when Jesus "loosed" a woman from a spirit of infirmity in Luke 13:12. 

 

This is the commission of the New Testament church! There’s just no reason to suggest this only applied to a handful of believers who were alive in the first century. You and I live under the New Testament/ New Covenant. Jesus won back mankind’s authority over the devil (which was lost at the Fall), and made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come live inside our physical bodies. 

 

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

 

The word “power” or "dunamis" (δύναμις) by definition means miraculous power for performing miracles. 

 

"His incomparably great power for us who believe... is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead." Ephesians 1:18

 

This is supernatural, resurrection power, undeniably promised to the believer who believes—so that they can take the Gospel to the world. 



 

Job’s Trials

Job cannot be used as an example of God's will to make someone sick. Job was under the Old Covenant. He was under the Law of Sin & Death. Satan still had dominion over mankind. The entire Old Testament (and depiction of animal sacrifice) exists to illustrate God’s wrath toward sin and our need for a Messiah. Christ fulfilled that. We are in a new, better covenant, under which "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Christ], THEREFORE GO." "And these signs will follow those who believe."

 

Also we can’t forget that ultimately it was Satan who made Job sick, and it was God who healed him. 



 

Can we know God’s will? 

The common argument of Cessationists is that we can’t know if it’s God’s will to heal someone. This is essentially just copping out from the intimacy that God is inviting us into, and which Jesus passionately prayed for in John 17. 

 

My Bible says we can discern the will of God:

  • Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

  • Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God. John 7:17

  • If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7

  • I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. John 17

 

God wants us to be so intimate with him that our will is completely conformed to his. And there is probably no clearer definition of God’s will than this:

 

This, then, is how you should pray… ​​Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matt 6:10

 

If there is no sickness in heaven, we can pray with confidence that God’s will be done in a person’s body, as it is in heaven. 

 

Matt 17 doesn’t say “If it is God’s will, he will move the mountain.” 

It says if you have faith, you will speak to the mountain and it will move. 

 

The New Testament is communicating a kind of life where a Christian has intimacy with God, discerns the nature & heart & will of God, and they take authority to enact the will of God in the world. They speak to the mountain, and it moves.

 

Do you see how God is trying to get us to stand up into something? How he’s trying to get us to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth? How he’s trying to get us into a direct relationship with the Father, where we hear his will clearly, and then use his authority to destroy the works of the devil? This is why Jesus said, "Heal the sick and tell them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you today.'" (Luke 10) That's because when someone gets healed, they are experiencing the reality of another world, the Kingdom of Heaven. On earth, as it is in heaven. 

 

Why does the Bible place such an emphasis on the faith of the believer, unless they have a major role to play in how things unfold redemptively on the planet? 

 

“All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

“He could not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” Matt 13:58

 

It doesn’t say he “would not,” it says he “could not.” But he sure as heck wanted to. (He just has a high regard for free will.)

 

God made his will clear: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But many times he waits for a believer to come along with a mustard seed of faith. 

 

 


 

Do Continuationists focus on miracles more than Christ? 

You are concerned that Bill Johnson and others are focusing on miracles at the expense of focusing on Christ. 

 

I agree with you that "Christ is the Gospel." But in our determination to prove that technical truth, let’s not miss the heart of the Father and passion of Jesus Christ. Why did he come? Why did Christ die and what was the goal of the cross? What is the Good News? 

 

He died to restore what was lost at the Fall. Jesus is the way back "to the Father." (John 14) Notice it doesn't say he's the way back "to heaven" or “to forgiveness.” It directly implies a relationship restored. 

 

Yes, Christ is the Gospel, but Christ died for a reason. He died for the joy set before him. He died to remove the curse of sin so our nature could be transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit:

 

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. . . He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Gal 3:13

 

 


 

Is preaching the Gospel more important than healing people? 

Cessationists seem to compartmentalize teaching and miracles, seeing them as two separate things. The Gospel sees them as all part of the same package. The miracles are simply the demonstration or actualization of the Good News.

 

And what is the good news? Salvation, redemption, healing. Jesus came to give us "life and more abundantly." He came "to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." Isaiah 61 / Luke 4

 

Don’t miss the part where healing is a huge part of the Good News. It is what he accomplished at the cross. Jesus isn't just doing a temporary magic trick to prove he's God. He is actively demonstrating the full package of salvation, the nature & goodness of God, his original design for humanity, and the nature of his Kingdom: "on earth, as it is in heaven." 

 

He's demonstrating the Good News; what he came to accomplish on the cross. 

 

Jesus came “that we might have life, and more abundantly.” He came to redeem us, every part of our being. Not just the soul, but the body as well. The word salvation or "saved" (Greek "sozo") does not just mean the soul is forgiven & going to heaven someday. That's a very modern concept. The Scriptural definition of "sozo" is extremely wholistic: “saved, healed, delivered, made whole.” Redeemed from the fallen nature and the curse and bondage of sin. This is why Isaiah 53 clearly describes the full package of salvation touching every part of our being: 

 

4 Surely he took up our infirmities

    and bore our suffering...

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

 

And this is why the same word is used interchangeably for salvation and healing:

 

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (sozo'ed)." Acts 16:31

"She touched the hem of his garment and was instantly made whole (sozo'ed)." Matthew 9:22

 

Salvation of our whole being includes physical healing. Jesus made provision for it on the cross. 

 

We can't separate miracles and healing from teaching and preaching. They are two sides of the same coin. It's a modern, Western error to intellectualize the Gospel and make it all about mental concepts devoid of physical effect—or to compartmentalize the soul and body, as if they aren’t inseparably intertwined or don’t have tremendous interplay. They are, and they do. 

 

Jesus took a moment during the biggest trial of his life to put a severed ear back on the head of a man who was there to kill him, and say to his disciples "put down your swords," as a demonstration of the nature of his Kingdom; the “Kingdom of Heaven.” Such love has never been seen before on this planet.  




 

Are miracles an integral part of the Great Commission?

We need to ask why Jesus made the following statement:

 

47 And repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24

 

Yet again he is associating the Great Commission with the supernatural power (dunamis) of the Holy Spirit. He told the disciples to go out and preach the Gospel, but directly forbade them to do so until they were "clothed with power from on high." As we all know, they waited in the Upper Room until the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, and from that point they began speaking in tongues and prophesying, and went out to preach, teach, and heal with supernatural “dunamis” power, just as Jesus had done. 

 

In Acts 19, Paul in Ephesus made sure the new believers were not only baptized in the water, but were also baptized in the Holy Spirit: 

 

Paul... arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 

 

Why is Paul making sure these new disciples receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts (the same exact baptism received at Pentecost) if it is only for the 120 people in the Upper Room? Why is he making sure they not only have their names written in the book of life, but are also baptized in power from on high? He is fulfilling Christ's exact command to "teach them everything I taught you." 




 

Paul's Thorn

There is no evidence that Paul's thorn in the flesh was a physical illness. "Thorn in the flesh" is a figure of speech used even in the Old Testament; Ezekiel 28 metaphorically calls Israel's neighbors a "grieving thorn." Paul too uses the word "thorn" metaphorically, describing it as "a messenger of Satan sent to buffet me" for the purpose of keeping him humble, since he was receiving “exceeding revelations” from Christ himself. 

 

If Paul had some kind of physical ailment, we need to ask why he was living with such superhuman strength. He got 39 lashes from the Jews 5 times (Jesus almost died after one time). 3 times beaten with rods. Stoned, shipwrecked, spent a day & night on the open sea, experienced hunger & thirst, cold & nakedness, and constant danger from both Jews & Gentiles, "exposed to death again and again." He describes feeling weak from all this physical persecution. (2 Corinthians 11)

 

This is not a man suffering from sickness. How is he living with the strength of a Gladiator if he's carrying around some kind of disease? A poisonous snake bites him, and he shakes it off and nothing happens. This sounds about like Jesus' description of a true believer found in Mark 16: “they will drink deadly poison and it won't hurt them at all.”

 

God had already shown Paul "what kind of suffering he would endure." (Acts 9:15) It was constant persecution for the sake of the Gospel, not physical illness.

 

It's a mark of great bias when we try to use these obscure, nuanced examples to disprove healing, while ignoring blanket statements like:

 

"People brought the sick into the streets and laid them on mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed." Acts 5:16

 

There’s no record of the early church trying to figure out who should be healed and who shouldn’t, or abdicating their commission to know and do the will of God on the earth. 



 

Did God directly impose sickness or blindness? 

It's true that God is depicted as the source of Paul's blindness, and permitting Job's troubles. But in both of these examples, the person was ultimately healed... because God's will for us is not destruction, but healing. 

 

God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

 

This is what Bill Johnson means when he says it is always the will of God to heal. Even if (as a rare exception) someone like Paul got supernaturally tased with blindness to get their attention—ultimately God "is not willing that any should perish." In other words, he's actually trying to prevent their destruction. It is still the ultimate will of God to heal them. Paul was completely healed of blindness and went on to become a powerhouse for the Gospel with supernatural physical stamina. (Being flogged 5x and going back for more is not normal.)

 

We can also open the door to sickness through our own choices and sin. We have free will, and we experience the consequences of overeating or doing drugs, or the like. At the end of the day, God won't take away our free choice, but he longs for us to repent so we can experience “life and more abundantly”—the reason Jesus came. 

 

Jesus healed a man whose sickness was the direct result of sin:

 

“See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” John 5:14

 

Even though the man had sinned, Jesus' desire was that he repent and be healed. Many people do not experience healing because they choose sickness by their lifestyle, but it is still God's ultimate desire that they repent and be healed. Just because God has to parent us in the midst of our fallenness and carnality does not mean that he wills sickness and suffering. Just because God is able to use our suffering and pain to get our attention (all things work together for the good) doesn't mean he wills it or wants us to suffer. And just because he eventually has to give some people over to their own destruction does not mean it was his will for them. The endgame is always repentance. The endgame is always redemption of soul and body. The endgame is always "on earth, as it is in heaven." That's what Christ taught us to pray and work for. 

 

I believe this is why Jesus responds with such frustration to the disciples’ inability to heal the boy in Matt 17. “You unbelieving (like an unbeliever or infidel) and perverse (corrupted; in opposition to the purposes of God) generation (notice he references the entire generation and not just the 12 disciples), how long must I bear with you?” You still think it’s normal and right for people to be sick; you still think sickness comes from God. It comes from Satan; it comes from the Fall!!!  (My paraphrase)




 

Is persuasion the most effective method for evangelism? 

You certainly won't hear me discouraging the preaching and teaching of the Gospel! Again, I'm saying that healing and miracles are simply the demonstration (or active form) of that teaching, and of God's nature. They cannot be separated, Biblically speaking. Faith without works is dead. A Gospel that is just talk without transformative power is dead. I can learn concepts about filmmaking but what use is that unless I actually make a film? Don't forget Paul's words:

 

4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Cor 2

 

Paul emphasizes the demonstration of the Spirit's "dunamis" power OVER persuasive words. And he echoes Jesus' statement of proving true believers by their supernatural lifestyle, not their speech:

 

19 But I will come to you very soon, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. 1 Cor 4:20

 

Again, "power" (Greek Dunamis) means mighty acts and power for performing miracles. Again, this is consistent with Jesus' definition of true believers in Mark 16: "they will cast out demons, speak in new tongues, place their hands on the sick..."

 

I'm all about the preaching and teaching of the Gospel. What I discourage is argument and debate. Because arguing and debating over doctrine is not an effective mode of spreading the Gospel. But it is a very good tactic of the devil to distract us and divide us, and ruin our witness. I believe this is what Timothy is getting at when he says: "Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." 2 Tim 2:23

 

Doctrinal truth is paramount. But we won't produce much fruit by arguing about or criticizing doctrinal errors. The Bible says a pure heart will find truth and see God. And it says the world will know us by our love for each other. That's why the early church model for evangelism is teaching & supernaturally demonstrating God's love and kindness, not just persuading and debating. "The kindness of God leads men to repentance." 

 

 

 

Why don't some people get healed?

In my

Isn't it harsh to say people don't have enough faith? 

Yes. Jesus didn't quantify. If anything he said a mustard seed is enough.

Jesus himself said unbelief. 

 

In my last email I said unbelief is the sole reason someone isn't healed. However, unbelief is much deeper than just "you don't have enough faith." The word unbelief also means infidelity or unfaithfulness. In other words, our thinking is still twisted by the Fall, and we are out of sync with God's heart; there is a severing of the relationship. When Christ said, "It's because of your unbelief... but if you have faith... nothing will be impossible for you,” he is not talking about conjuring up a feeling or psyching ourselves into a mental state. He is talking about having such intimacy with God that we see things from the unfallen perspective. Faith is not just a "tool" to get a miracle or breakthrough. Faith is having the perspective of God. (On earth as it is in heaven.) "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern... the perfect will of God."

 

When a believer "casts out demons” or “places their hands on sick people," they are not just performing a magic trick. It is the natural outflow of someone who has their mind lined up with the reality of heaven, and is manifesting that reality on earth. 

 

I absolutely agree there is no formula for healing and there is a tremendous amount of variation in the Biblical accounts of healing. Sometimes it was the sick person's faith, other times their friends’ faith, other times Jesus took initiative to heal someone. Sometimes he put mud on their eyes, sometimes he told them to go see the priest, sometimes he cast out a demon. At the end of the day, someone had to have faith, AKA the perspective of heaven, AKA understand that it is the will and heart of God to heal. 



 

Closing thoughts

Cessationists have some important questions to answer:

  • Why did Christ waste time training the 12 and the 72 and the 120 to use his supernatural authority, and then instruct them to teach the nations "everything I taught you"? 

  • Why did Paul go out of his way to make sure new believers in Ephesus were baptized not only in water, but in the Holy Spirit? 

  • Why is Jesus giving the early church "the keys to the kingdom of heaven," and authority to "bind and loose"? 

  • Why didn't he simply show up on the scene, do some miracles to prove he was God, go to the cross and return to heaven? 

  • Why did he say the person with faith would move mountains and nothing would be impossible for them? 

  • Why did he say "as the Father sent me, I am sending you"?

  • Why did he say "whoever" believes in me will do the works I am doing, after repeatedly using the word "works" to mean "mighty works" or miracles?

  • Why did he explicitly say healing, casting out demons, tongues, etc. would be the signs by which you would identify a believer? 

  • Why did he keep the disciples in Jerusalem until he sent the Holy Spirit and clothed them "with power (dunamis) from on high"? 

  • Why did Paul say he did not come with persuasive or eloquent words, but with a demonstration of power? 

  • Why did Paul say the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power? 

  • Why does Ephesians say the same mighty strength that resurrected Christ's body from the dead is the same power in us who believe? 

 

These are not obscure references but integral concepts that permeate the Gospels and the entire record we have of the early church activities as recorded in Acts. 



 

And finally, why can modern day believers actively heal the sick & cast out demons, producing testimonies like my own?

 

It is not rare. I minister to people with demons regularly. I have seen them manifest violently, I have heard them speak out of people, I have seen a person's eyes turn completely black (no white showing) as a demon was speaking out of them. These things are real, and thank God, we have authority to deal with them in Jesus' name. And there is nothing so beautiful as seeing someone set free from the power of the devil. It's why we are on the planet as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. To deliver people from the power of the devil, and lead them to salvation. 

 

Carrying that authority is anything but arrogant. I can't think of anything more humbling. It requires extreme fasting and rigorous purification and discipline from the Lord, as we learn to set aside the self and every earthly agenda. Learning to live by the Spirit and host the presence of the Holy Spirit has been the most challenging journey of my entire life. But words can't describe the joy of it. 

 

Yes, it is easy for people to pervert these gifts and principles. But the false version doesn't negate the real. Let’s not get so caught in the mire of the erroneous version that we miss the beauty of the real thing. There can't be any greater joy than seeing a person freed from a demon, coming into an awareness of God's deep love for them, shedding condemnation and shame, coming back to life, healed physically and emotionally, and confident of an eternal future.

 

I grew up in a culture that shunned Pentecostals and thought speaking in tongues was bad. When I finally studied it for myself, all I had to do was simply read the Scriptures and I was convinced. I didn't resist, as no credible argument could be made against it. I immediately repented. You can't read the book of Acts without seeing that the gifts of the Spirit are a huge part of every believer's life. An atheist could read the Bible and easily deduce that Christ commanded his followers of every generation to heal the sick. It's typically the religious that resist it. 

 

There are errors within the Charismatic movement, and they're usually about the same as the errors I see in every other Christian community, denomination, or camp: the tendency to emphasize the peculiar characteristics of their church culture over intimacy with Christ and the pure, early church Gospel. I believe I can do more to help the Charismatic community by coming alongside them as a sister than attacking them as a critic and exposing their errors to the public. Most of these people passionately love God and are doing their very best to honor him with the truth they've received so far. That, at least, is worthy of honor. And God will complete what he started in them! He deeply loves them and so should we.

 

God bless you for putting up with me! But I'm pretty passionate about the pure Gospel, and the pure Gospel demands supernatural, miraculous transformation for every generation of believer! 





 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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